Charlotte celebrates 2012 DNC win: 'Hot damn'

Credit: AP

Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, right, and Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, left, react during a news conference to announce Charlotte as the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

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by NewsChannel 36 Staff

NewsChannel 36 Staff

Posted on February 1, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 2 at 11:48 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A celebratory news conference in Charlotte began with cheers and applause after fundraiser Cammie Harris said, "Hot damn. Wasn't that good news?"

Harris was referring to the announcement Tuesday morning that Charlotte will be the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Harris, the lead fundraiser for the Charlotte 2012 organizing committee, touted Charlotte as the leader of the New South.

"We have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase this city we love," Harris said. "For one week we will have a national and international audience, showing them what a great city we have. ... It is our time to shine and by gosh, by golly we will shine."

Charlotte beat out St. Louis, Cleveland and Minneapolis in the bid to land the convention.

"It is my great pleasure to express how excited I am, as the mayor of the city of Charlotte, to welcome the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the People's Convention, to the city of Charlotte," said Mayor Anthony Foxx at the Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Foxx said he received a call from Gov. Tim Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, early Tuesday morning.

"I'd like to say to Gov. Kaine and to the First Lady and to all of those who played a role in this decision, thank you," Foxx said.

Local leaders could barely contain their excitement after hearing the news, and preparations were expected to begin immediately for the convention.

"It's a great day to be a Democrat and it's a great day to live in the city of Charlotte," said Joel Ford, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party.

The convention is expected to bring between 30,000 and 35,000 delegates to the Queen City.

"It's a huge economic boost for the city of Charlotte and, really, the region," said Ford. "It will cost a little bit of money up front to get things prepped and ready, but I do believe the return on the investment will be huge for the region."

City officials estimate the convention could bring $150 million to $200 million to the Queen City, according to Charlottein2012.com. Hosting the convention will also mean new construction and other jobs for the two years leading up to convention week.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe says work has already begun to try to make sure everyone who lives in Charlotte, as well as everyone who will travel to the city will be safe during the convention.

Monroe says it will be a massive effort, but it will also be a joint effort involving local, state and federal officials.

“It’s a combination of everything,” he said. “There’s a strong component that’s involved in keeping the citizens and the delegates and the whole host of people who will be involved in this convention safe.”

At the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, one lobbyist said hosting the convention will put Charlotte on the map -- literally. He said Charlotte will no longer have to clarify that the city is located in North Carolina.

The Charlotte City Council was in a retreat when the announcement was made Tuesday morning. Councilmember Jason Burgess read a proclamation, authorizing the city manager to move forward with necessary contracts and preparations for the convention.

"I'd like to make a motion to approve the 2012 Democratic National Convention agreement," said Burgess, whose mother, Susan, helped spearhead the effort to bring the convention to Charlotte. Susan Burgess died from cancer in June 2010.

The council unanimously approved the motion.

"Welcome to Charlotte!" Foxx said after the vote.

Leaders promise great convention

Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers, who co-chairs the Charlotte In 2012 organizing committee, said Tuesday the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte will be "one of the greatest conventions ever held in this country."

"This is the first time in the history of our state that we've had an opportunity to host a political convention. That's a great honor," Rogers said. "It's also the first time since 1988 that the Democrats have held a convention in the South."

Rogers thanked the DNC for choosing Charlotte and promised the city would deliver.

"We will make you proud. We will make your decision a great decision because this is going to be one of the greatest conventions ever held in this country, and we can do it," Rogers said.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine is expected to arrive in Charlotte Tuesday night and meet with city leaders Wednesday.

"Tomorrow we will spend some time at the arena with Gov. Kaine and take a tour," Foxx said. "And we, obviously, have a lot of working together to do. Now that we are married, so to speak, we need to introduce ourselves to each other."

Why Charlotte?

Kaine told NewsChannel 36 reporter Beth Shayne Tuesday that politics played a big role in the decision to bring the convention to Charlotte.

Kaine said the political climate was key. He said Democrats plan to play offense in the South and they feel like choosing Charlotte moves them in the right direction.

President Barack Obama edged Republican John McCain in 2008 by about 14,000 votes among more than 4.3 million votes cast to put the state's electoral votes in the Democratic column for the first time since 1976.

Democrats hope to carry the state and others in the South again.

"I am confident that Charlotte is an ideal location," Kaine said in an e-mail to DNC members.

First Lady Michelle Obama gave Charlotte a glowing review in an e-mail to campaign supporters Tuesday.

"Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an 'up by the bootstraps' mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South," she said. "Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue."

Obama signaled that the gathering would be "a grassroots convention for the people" and promised to finance the convention differently than has been done in the past but provided no specifics on either point.

"This will be a different convention, for a different time," she said.

Republicans give mixed message

The new North Carolina Republican Party chairman says he welcomes Democrats to Charlotte for their national convention next year. But GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said Tuesday that won't be enough for President Obama to again win the state's 15 electoral votes.

"We look forward to Charlotte being in the spotlight in 2012, but North Carolinians will not be fooled again by empty promises of 'Hope' and 'Change,'" Hayes said in a written statement.

Hayes says Democrats will have to answer for what he called "their misguided policies" on spending and government.

Obama seeks Southern victory

By selecting Charlotte, Democrats have chosen to fete President Barack Obama in a newly competitive presidential battleground in the conservative-leaning South.

The selection signaled that Obama plans to aggressively compete in traditionally Republican states that he won during his first presidential campaign by cobbling together a diverse cross-section of voters. And the apparent theme -- The People's Convention -- indicated that the president will try to rekindle the grass-roots flavor of his ground-breaking 2008 bid.

A personally popular incumbent, Obama is virtually assured of being nominated again; he faces no serious primary challenger.

In an e-mail to backers, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine answered speculation that Obama would choose a different running mate for 2012, saying the party was looking forward to nominating both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for a second term.

Democrats will hold their convention the week of Sept. 3, 2012. A week earlier, Republicans will nominate their candidate in Tampa, Fla., another important presidential state, after a primary fight to sort out a potentially crowded GOP field.

In St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, said the decision came down to which city would go further in helping Obama carry states in the South.

"They clearly made the decision based on electoral politics, not who is the best place to hold a convention with excellent hotels and restaurants," he said.

Quick facts about Charlotte

  • Convention events to be held at Time Warner Cable Arena and the newly expanded convention center. Both have close proximity to hotels, restaurants, entertainment and shopping.
  • Charlotte has more than 30,000 hotel rooms.
  • Charlotte-Douglas International Airport offers non-stop service to more than 134 destinations worldwide and 695 daily departures.
  • Uptown Charlotte features the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Levine Center for the Arts.
  • Nearby attractions include Carowinds theme park, U.S. National Whitewater Center and the Billy Graham Library.

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